I am not a pessimist but rejoicing at this point and believing that peace will soon reign in Mindanao following the signing by the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of the final annex in Malaysia last week may be premature.
As of press time, more than 50 people have died while thousands fled their homes in Maguindanao as fighting between government forces and members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) escalates. The BIFF is demanding direct talks with the Aquino administration “to establish an independent Bangsamoro Islamic State, different from that of the MILF.”
A source in Jolo, Sulu said the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) – Misuari faction, on the other hand, is currently gathering funds and logistics for a long drawn war after the government did not include the group in the Bangsamoro peace agreement which will eventually result in the abolition of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The MNLF claims that the Aquino administration’s peace accord with the MILF directly violates the Tripoli agreement and the formal peace talks between the Ramos administration and Chairman Nur Misuari a few decades ago.
Several administrations in the past have tried to resolve the problem in Mindanao but all of them failed since the government only talked to one rebel group while shunning the others.
The result? The war continues between government forces and the other rebel group who did not take part in the peace negotiations.
The Ramos administration made peace only with Misuari’s MNLF while leaving Hashim Salamat’s group out of the talks after it broke away from the MNLF.
Except for the Mindanaoans, everybody else thought peace will finally reign in the South since the MNLF laid down their arms but the MILF continued its armed struggle for autonomy.
While it is true that there is an agreement now between the government and the MILF, the Pnoy administration left out the BIFF of “Kumander Kato” and Misuari’s MNLF from the recent peace accord and the result is even deadlier.
The peace agreement with the MILF is a deja vu of sorts, bringing to mind the agreement between Ramos and Misuari in the 90’s that left out a certain armed group from the negotiating table.
The situation now is even worse because the government has two rebel groups to contain — the BIFF and Misuari’s MNLF.
Thousands are now fleeing their homes in Central Mindanao because of the offensive by the BIFF while Misuari and his men burned several barangays in Zamboaga City a few months back.
Unless this administration will make peace with the BIFF and the Misuari MNLF faction, war will definitely continue in the South.